What is Service Learning?

Service Learning, simply put, is a way of Active Learning. Active Learning is the approach to teaching and learning – to education – that creates an integral link between Theory, Practice, Experience and Action. Active Learning translates into Service Learning when it inculcates service to community as one of the ultimate outcomes of the educational process through imbuing the learner with a deep consciousness and reflection on the relationship between what is learnt in the classroom and his or her everyday life experiences individually, or in the community where he or she lives. As such, Service Learning is problem-based learning that innovatively derives meaning from the experiences learnt with the view of prescribing solutions to the ordinary challenges of life that confront the learner or his/her community everyday, or on an ongoing basis. This is what makes Service Learning a transformative and life-long process that by far supersedes the scores and grades the learner obtains from the controlled learning activities and experiences in a classroom setting. If Active Learning is learning by doing or through experience, Service Learning is learning by serving, and the totality of the experience accumulated by the learner through the service rendered to community. In a nutshell, Service Learning is all about the active service the learners extend to society by aligning their learnt experiences and outcomes to the community needs within their immediate as well as their remote surroundings. In so doing, the learning experiences are not only enriched by the community within which the learner is immersed through a reciprocal and continuous mutual interaction; it also cements, in very concrete and symbiotic ways, the relationship between the school and the community, which the school is inherently a part of. Hence, SL entails any or a combination of the following perspectives and dimensions of education: Service to Humanity, Reflective Learning, Corporate Responsibility, Social Entrepreneurship, Citizenship Education, Social Inclusion, Dignity of the Human Person (UBUNTU), Common Good, Respect for Diversity and Plurality, Social and Ecological Justice and Nurturing the Civic Culture among the students. In the Catholic Institutions of Higher Education, Spirituality is another central feature of SL born out of the Social Teaching of the Church and the institutional spirituality of the educational institution in question; in UniK’s case, this is bequeathed by the educational philosophy of the Brothers of Christian Instruction, and its Founders, John Mary Robert de la Mennais and Gabriel Deshayes.